The preschool called before noon on Tuesday, saying that my 3-year-old son had a fever and needed to be picked up. I was working from home that day — I had a feeling something like this might happen, since he seemed off but OK and eager to go to school — and so I made the 5-minute drive to get him, and settled him on the couch for a cuddle and a nap.
Thanks to N1H1, any temperature higher than 100 degrees is considered send-home worthy, and kids who are sent home can’t return until they’ve been symptom-free for 24 hours — pretty standard stuff. My husband and I divvied up the rest of the week, just in case: He stayed home yesterday, I’ve doing so today, and he’ll be on sick duty tomorrow, if warranted.
We’re really lucky. We have paid sick time to tap into (which we almost never use when we’re the ones who are sick, of course) and enough seniority to have some flexibility at work. And we also have colleauges who have been there, done that, laundered the germ-infested T-shirt; it’s not convenient for them when we have to juggle like this, but they understand because they’ve had to do it themselves.
Plenty of people have none of that — no support, no flexibility, and no paid sick time. How are they supposed to cope when this happens to them?
In New York City, a bill was introduced late last summer that would give all private-sector workers in the city paid sick leave — nine of them each year for those who work for companies with more than 10 employees (smaller companies would only have to give five). And the late Senator Edward Kennedy reintroduced the Healthy Families Act, an years-old effort to institute similar measures at the Federal level.
But while those plans are in the works — which may be a while, given that the Heathy Family Act went nowhere when it was first introduced during the George W. Bush administration, had has plenty of opposition from businesses now — parents are going to have to amp up their work-life juggle, and probably end up going to the office when they’re sick themselves.
What do you do when your kids are sick and you have to work?